My dear brothers, sisters and young friends of Nagaland,
On the eve of 58th Statehood Day of Nagaland, I extend my warmest greetings and best wishes to you all.
On this auspicious occasion we pay our heartfelt tribute to the Founding Fathers of Nagaland – the leaders of the Naga Peoples’ Convention, martyrs and countless Nagas whose blood, toil, sweat and sacrifices led to the birth of the 16th State of the Union of India. We remember them with utmost gratitude for their strategic foresight and political vision in uniting the Nagas living in Assam and NEFA and creating this beautiful State with extraordinary constitutional safeguards to their unique identity and interests.
Nagaland State is an abiding testimony to the triumph of the politics of peace over the politics of bloodshed. It is a proud saga of the indomitable Naga spirit which rejected the politics of gun and gun powder in favour of politics of democracy and dialogue.
On this Day, we proudly remember our founding fathers for their political forbearance in upholding the true Naga democratic spirit in which they held widespread consultations among all the tribes of Nagaland and initiated a socio-political churning among them on the nature and course of the future of the people. Over three years of intense political process helped crystallise the free-will of the people which was subsequently translated into reality through political dialogue with the Government of India. The Government of India recognised the uniqueness of the Nagas and sanctified it in Article 371-A of the Indian Constitution. Nagaland State was born with adequate special safeguards to the identity and interests of the Naga people.
We salute the founding fathers for their achievements for the people of Nagaland – which could have been otherwise unthinkable. Violence could never achieve and shall never achieve anything like this. History bears testimony to the fact that armed insurgencies have rarely succeeded in achieving their political objectives and have invariably left a trail of blood, betrayal and bitterness.
Protracted armed insurgency and endless peace process have taken an unacceptable heavy toll on the people of Nagaland. Since 1980, the people of Nagaland have suffered enormously by the guns of people from outside the State, inspired by Maoist ideology and tactics. In pursuance of their new found political ideology which was antithetical to the inherent ethos, values and customary systems of Naga society, they unleashed a cultural genocide, akin to the Cultural Revolution in our neighbouring Country and killed thousands of Nagas including infants and women and tried to exterminate the tribal and intellectual leadership of Nagaland. Free-speech was muzzled with guns and political dissenters were exterminated. Scores of churches were destroyed. These are documented facts of history. Those who lost their kins have neither forgotten their loved ones nor forgiven the perpetrators.
Our most precious resource, the human resource has suffered the most. Over the decades, more so ironically since the beginning of the Peace Process, Nagaland State has steadily declined on the Human Development Indices relative to other States in the North-East region. We are lagging behind in all the critical sectors like Education, Health, Infrastructure and Livelihood. Over 60 per cent of our youth are not reaching the High School and our roads are in abysmal conditions. Pace and quality of our infrastructure development is grossly compromised.
Nagaland has to be rescued from the fatal grip of the vicious circle of vices. The Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi is seriously committed to it from day one of his taking charge. Under his dynamic and visionary leadership fundamental anomalies and distortions in the ongoing peace process have been corrected by making it truly inclusive.
Naga political issue belongs to the Naga people. No single entity should claim the sole franchise over it. Nagas have existed and survived through centuries through their customary and traditional institutions. Heart of Nagaland beats in its villages. The traditional village institutions and the tribal bodies are the primary stakeholders in the Naga political issue. Their freely expressed wishes and decisions are paramount in any settlement. They have clearly expressed their mind. They demand conclusion of the endless Peace-Process without any further delay. They want end of the gun-culture. They want the rule of law and justice. They want an environment for flourishing of the genius of its people. Every other entity should respect them and their wishes. Being disrespectful to the primary stakeholders is an insult to the people of Nagaland. Any attempt to intimidate or threaten them will invite the wrath of the people and full might of the laws of the land.
Friends, the essence of India is its unity in diversity. Multitudes of ethnicities, languages, cultures and cuisine enrich this beautiful country from Kerala to Kashmir and Kohima to Kutch. The territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Union of India is Supreme. The Government of India has never ever talked, much less negotiated with anyone on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Country. Any misadventure to disintegrate this great Nation shall not be tolerated. The Indian National Flag and Constitution are the pride of the people of India. The Government of India is absolutely clear that there is and there shall be only one National Flag and Constitution in India. Anyone talking anything contrary is peddling preposterous lies. They are trying to confuse and mislead the people.
Friends, today we stand at the crossroads of history. The right decision taken today will determine our future and the destiny of our coming generations. With common understanding having been reached on all the issues on the table and conclusion of talks on October 31, 2019, the people of Nagaland are anxiously waiting for the new dawn. However, there are some people who are standing as a roadblock to the aspirations of the people of Nagaland. I urge these people to see the writings on the wall, to come out of their make-believe echo-chamber and listen to the voice of the people and in a true democratic spirit respect their wishes.
As we prepare to embark on a new journey, this Statehood Day, let us commit ourselves to building the Nagaland of the dreams of its Founding Fathers – a Nagaland where the free-spirit of the people will blossom to the fullest, where the youth will dream big in an environment conducive to fulfilling those dreams, where people will no longer live under the shadow of invisible guns, where entrepreneurs will not have to bury their ideas and aspirations for fear of extortions in the guise of illegal taxations, where free-speech and progressive ideas proliferate, where youths do not have to choose guns for livelihood, where opportunities will abound, and where the laws and justice shall prevail. Let us commit ourselves to reclaim our state from violence and desolation and restore the glories it deserves.
Statehood Day is the Day of Celebrations for the people of Nagaland. We used to celebrate it in previous years with all the gaiety and cultural splendour of the people of the State during Hornbill Festival. This year, due to the global pandemic COVID-19, unfortunately we may not be able to do it at that scale. However, true to the indomitable Naga spirit, we will do so in our own households observing the needed COVID protocols.
Once again I wish you all a Happy Statehood Day.
May God Bless Nagaland !